Whether you’re looking to make life easier for yourself as you age or inviting an elderly relative to move in with you, there are many steps you can take to make your home elderly-friendly in terms of both safety and convenience. Here are some key modifications that will reduce the risk of injury and alleviate frustration for senior citizens.
Clear a Path
Young, spry folks just can’t appreciate how difficult it can be for seniors to navigate cluttered walkways, especially if they rely on a cane, walker or wheelchair for assistance. One of the simplest ways to make your home safer and more senior-friendly is to make sure there are wide, clear paths through every room. Things like toys, pet beds, plant stands, and even magazine racks can be hazards. Watch for area rugs that slip or flip up at the edges and be sure all electrical cords are tucked out of the way. Whenever necessary, widen doorways to accommodate mobility aids.
Easy Does It
Look for ways to simplify everyday tasks throughout the home. Replace traditional doorknobs with easier-to-open lever versions, and be sure cabinet handles and drawer pulls are easy to grasp. If stairs are a problem, consider adding lifts or ramps to facilitate access to all parts of the house. Be sure lamps are easy to turn on and off with pull cords or sound-activated devices and ensure that your home is brightly lit. Post labels, notes and important phone numbers in large, easy-to-read print, and research home intercom systems for between-room communication with those who are hard-of-hearing or unable to raise their voices.
Installing safety devices in a home makes seniors feel more secure and can reduce accidents. In the bathroom, consider installing grab bars near the tub, shower, and toilet, and add non-slip decals or mats in and around tubs and showers. Convert your toilet to a comfort-height version, and provide a safe place to store medications. Bed rails might help some seniors get in and out of bed, and extra railings throughout the house can help prevent falls. Be sure each area of the home has a loud, working smoke detector, and consider a home security system or another monitoring system for seniors living on their own.
With a few simple changes, most houses can be made more elderly-friendly, giving seniors the option of living at home or with family longer and giving everyone who loves them peace of mind.